If you started you trip in Bangkok, chances are you're heading south to see some of the beautiful beaches in Thailands islands. To get from Bangkok to Koh Samui there are several possibilities. If you plan to visit Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan, I'd recommend to start with Koh Tao.
Koh Tao is the northernmost of the 3 islands, below you will find Koh Phangan and Koh Samui.
If you want to go directly from Bangkok to Samui island, here are all the options you have including prices and approximate duration.
The combination of bus & ferry from Bangkok to Koh Samui is, as always, the cheapest. Starting from 800 Baht you get combo tickets from Songserm or Jolly Travel. The same trip with Lomprayah costs you around 1400 baht.
I know that many of you want to save some Baht, but my recommendation is to go with Lomprayah. They not only have nice and modern buses but also operate the best ferry fleet in the south. The trips they offers are really well organized compared to some others.
I prefer to book the tickets online but you can also just head to any tour office and get them there. If you plant to do the latter, I still recommend to check the prices via the link provided. Then you know exactly how much it costs, and the office can't over charge you.
The journey by bus
The bus trip starts in Bangkok and ends in Chumphon, it doesn't matter if you want to go to Koh Tao, Koh Phangan or Koh Samui. To Samui it is just a bit more expensive as it is the last stop of the ferry. The bus ride takes between 8 and 10 hours with at least one stop, depending on the provider and traffic.
Early in the morning you arrive in Chumphon and have to wait until your ferry is ready to leave. This is a great time to provide yourself with food and drinks for ferry.
- approx. 1200 Baht (ca. $30 ) für Songserm / Jolly Travel
- Personally, I recommend Lomprayah for 1650 Baht (ca. $43)
Many people I met choose to book a sleeping car in a train. In theory that's clever as you can manage to sleep a few hours and arrive fresh and relaxed on the island. In reality, this works only for the fewest. After my last train ride to the South I was even more exhausted than after taking a bus. However, that's a personal preference and I can't make that decision for you.
You don't have to worry about food, as there are plenty of options during the trip to get something to eat. If you're picky eater, simply buy some food at the train station before the trip starts. -And what you absolutely should do is buy a combi ticket (train & ferry) in advance. This also includes transportation to the pier and the ferry which otherwise costs extra.
Important: After covid-19, the situation is a bit different and trains are harder to book. If you still prefer to go by train and can't find an option to book online, it's best to visit the train station and ask if there are any tickets available. This is not ideal as you should book them a few week ahead usually but under these circumstanced it could be the only way to get tickets.
The journey on the train
There's one important thing to remember when taking night trains in Thailand: always, I repeat always, book the lower bed. If you more than one person, take two lower beds and not an upper bed. Yes, the upped beds are slightly cheaper but also a lot smaller and less comfortable. You will travel for over 10 hours, so this definitely makes a difference.
If you are lucky enough to travel in one of the newer trains (recognizable by the red seat cushions), you can even enjoy a power outlet and light at your seat.
- approx. 2800 Baht for train + ferry from Lomprayah (ca. $73 )
- approx. 2500 Baht for train + ferry from Songserm (ca. $65)
The fastest way to Koh Samui is by plane. There is an airport directly on the island that allows you to get to the island within an hour and without using a ferry. This is of course by far the most expensive option.
For those who would like to fly and are okay with an additional ferry ride, there is also a cheaper but still fast option. Book a flight to the airport in Suratthani in combination with a Lomprayah ferry ticket brings you quickly and cheaply to Koh Samui.
The flight itself takes just under an hour, whether you fly directly to Koh Samui or to Suratthani. For the flight to Suratthani, a minibus transport and the ferry ride are added. In total, your trip to Samui will be just under 8 hours, which is still significantly shorter than taking a bus (15 hours) or train (about 18 hours).
Important: The popular fly & ferry combination is also harder to book at this moment. It can be available any time as the numbers of tourists in Thailand grow daily, but right now it's easier (and also quite cheap) to fly directly.
- Direct Flight starting from 2600 Baht to 9000 Baht ($69 to $236)
- Flight + ferry starting from 2350 Baht ($62)
Where to go from here
If you come directly to Koh Samui, a flight with ferry is usually the best option. But right now, direct flights are even better and cheaper. You'll arrive much faster and will be more relaxed. In comparison to bus and train, the price is also fair. So if you are not looking to save money, treat yourself to the flight.
Koh Samui is a very diverse and relatively large island. To explore the whole island, you should definitely rent a scooter. Cab and songthaew (a kind of shared cab) are not the cheapest options to see all the places and beaches.
If you are still looking for accommodation on Koh Samui, you can check Agoda. For Southeast Asia, this platform has a great selection of accommodation (including guesthouses and hostels) and the prices are often way below the competition, especially for hostel beds.